27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Our focus is going to be on verse twenty-eight above, but let us first look at and discuss verses twenty-nine and thirty as it will provide some context. Consider the question “Can any part of your cause or force you to sin?” The answer should be obvious, “No.” Then what is Jesus telling us in verses twenty-nine and thirty? The answer to that is in verse twenty-eight when He says But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. The problem is in the heart, not in any particular body part.
King David knew this from when he was confronted with his sin with Bathsheba and sending her husband Uriah to die in battle (2 Samuel 11-12). So what did David do? He asked God for a new or clean heart – his heart was the problem, so he asked for God’s help.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
David knew and scripture reflects this, the heart is where our sin begins and it is our heart that has to be cleansed of sin. This is why Jesus addresses the heart when it comes to adultery. His Father said much the same when He said
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.
Then there is the phrase looks at a woman lustfully or lust after (KJV) that we need to look at where Strong’s defines epithymeō as to set the heart upon, i.e. long for (rightfully or otherwise):—covet, desire, would fain, lust (after). This makes Ellicott’s Commentary on this very appropriate
It is not the passing glance, not even the momentary impulse of desire, but the continued gaze by which the impulse is deliberately cherished till it becomes a passion.
I would add that caution is needed to avoid a passing glance etc becoming more putting one’s heart at risk. Also, this teaching conforms very well to the tenth commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
It is one thing to admire what your neighbor has, but quite another to covet what is his and not yours. Our heart needs to be protected and our best protection is offered by God.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
It’s Monday! Have a Great Week and remember to put your trust in the Lord as you seek to live out His will in your life.